Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bad customer feedback III

The latest round of bad customer feedback has occurred. This time, I simply got an e-mail from the client saying, "We were not pleased with the quality of this translation." I wrote back saying that the feedback is useless without some examples, and this is what I got:
Customer feedback: Why did you translate Bundestag as "lower house of the German parliament"?
The Bundesrat co-decides about federal laws that afflict Länder competences, but German constitution commentators do not consider it a parliament or a chamber of the parliament. The only federal parliament in Germany is the Bundestag. Nonetheless foreign commentators tend to compare it to upper houses such as the U.S. Senate or the House of Lords in the UK.

If I stop to think about it, I probably would just call the Bundestag the Parliament and I would not know how to express "Bundesrat" without saying something like Upper House or Senate, which in turn would make the Bundestag the lower house. But I don't really see this as a crucial issue for photovoltaics -- if we were talking about politics, sure. But the article talks about solar; it does not try to describe the German legislature. The fact that the roles of upper/lower houses differ from one country to another is hardly important for us here. The French president is the person in charge, whereas the German president is a figurehead with no political power (technically). But they would both be called presidents in English. The other option is simply to call the thing Bundestag in English. But the translation as such is certainly defensible.
Customer feedback: Why didn't you translate youtube as YouTube?
This word was written in lowercase in the German, and with all of the specific rules the customer has about capitalizing company names, etc., we cannot know that the client wants us to write something the way the client didn't write it. In particular, we have been told not to use camel case in company and product names regardless of how they are written by the firm.
Customer feedback: "Südwestrundfunk (SWR)'s" should have been "Südwestrundfunk's (SWR)".
Yes, that should have been different.
Customer feedback: "Environmental Minister" is an abbreviation. The first time this title is mentioned, the ministry's full name must be used.
The German reads "Bundesumweltminister", and that is what we translated. If you want the full name of the ministry written out, do it in the German (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit), and we will follow that faithfully (German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety).
Customer feedback: "the Association of German Industry (BDI)" should be "BDI, the Federation of German Industries"
Yes, your version is the official translation. I'm not sure where the translator got the other version, but perhaps here, which also looks pretty official to me. Overall, I would argue that "federation" is not the right translation of Bund at all. In the US, all of these industry lobby groups are associations.
Customer feedback: "chief whip of the CDU" should be "First Parliamentary Secretary of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group"

Im angelsächsischen Sprachraum werden sie Whip (Peitsche) genannt, da sie auch für die Disziplin beim Abstimmungsverhalten zuständig sind.

Customer feedback: "NRW Minister-President Jürgen Rüttgers"should be "NRW premier Jürgen Rüttgers"

If anything, I would change this into "governor" for US readers because this is the head of a state government, as opposed to the head of a national government. But I certainly think that the translation is fine as is:
There is some confusion about the correct English translation, the Ministerpräsident/-in is either known as "Minister-President" or "Prime Minister". (ex. Prime Minister of Brandenburg [1], Prime Minister of Lower Saxony [2]). The title can be translated as "Minister President", "Minister-President", or "(State) Premier".

For Rüttgers especially, see:
Jürgen Rüttgers (born June 26, 1951 in Cologne) is a German politician (CDU) and Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia

So it looks like, out of seven complaints, the only thing that is indisputably wrong here was the placement of the 's after SWR, and the "official" title of the BDI was taken from the wrong website. 5 of 7 complaints off the mark - pretty bad feedback. But not really unusual ;-(

No comments:

Post a Comment